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Frances Ha: Is a life at the margins, a marginal life?

It always bothered me that all of the characters on Friends were living this glamorous Manhattan lifestyle when they had such crappy jobs.  Frances Ha doesn’t sugarcoat how expensive and how hard it is to live in New York.  The scene where Frances’ credit card gets rejected made my heart sing.  Frances (Greta Gerwig) is clearly not in life’s fast lane and we see hipster Brooklyn / yuppie Manhattan from her perspective, yea for normal people!  We all love to hate hipsters (I’m looking at you, Austin) but as Frances’ circle of friends and acquaintances expands, Frances goes from looking like a quirky outsider to potentially needing an intervention.  As she goes from one bad break to the next, Frances accelerates the downward spiral by making each bad situation far worse.  It’s not cute or endearing – it’s kind of scary and pathetic.  The film eventually reaches an inflection point, is this a quirky character beats the odds kind of movie or a lovable character hits bottom movie?

Director Noah Baumbach has made those awkward in-between stages of life something of a specialty (think of John Hughes but as with dramas not comedies).  In fact, for a film with such a thin plot, which focuses almost exclusively on one character, it paints a very detailed portrait very quickly.  Filming in black and white on the busy city streets gives the film a blurry, fast feel. frances-ha-greta-gerwig

When a movie’s title has the main character’s name, you can bet that you will be spending a lot of time with them; Frances Ha is no exception.  Greta Gerwig is in literally every scene of the movie.  Frances is a newly single, struggling (and not very graceful) dancer.  Her best friend and flat-mate recently moved to a new apartment in fashionable Tribeca and got engaged.  Frances’ life is upended.  Although Gerwig’s does a great job of conveying a lot of information in these quotidian scenes, there is something missing.  For someone circling the drain, she seems delusionally too comfortable in her own skin.  It is easy to be of two minds about Frances, but the rest of the cast is made up of unsympathetic (even by New York standards) characters.  When Frances turns the corner from being Bridget Jones and becomes self destructive, the audience is left with no one to root for.

Frances Ha ends on an upbeat note, without exactly having a happy ending.  Baumbaugh resists the temptation of going for a cheap rescue ending that allow us to assume that her change in fortune means that she is a better person for her struggle.  Baumbach stays on message and within reality, making Frances Ha the anti-Bridget Jones.  When Frances hits bottom with style, ordinary events once again conspire to sap what should have been a cool episode into something completely unsatisfying and wasted.

So is Frances Ha worth it?  While the film’s realism is a nice change of pace, ultimately there isn’t a lot of “there” there.  Even as a date movie, I’m not sure there is much to talk about over drinks afterwards.  In life it really is about the little things; at the movies, there is such a thing as too little.

The Great Gatsby Trips on its Own Excess, How Fitting (As seen in the Blitz Weekly)

Jay Gatsby is one of those mysterious figures who, as they become revealed to us, reveal something about us.  Leonardo DiCaprio, as Jay Gatsby, delivers a performance that stays true to the myth of the man while allowing us to pick apart the myths that are his bane.  Despite the nuance and strength of DiCaprio’s performance, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is far bigger than just the story of a man and DiCaprio can only take the movie so far.

egg The story goes like this: Jay Gatsby was poor when he met and fell in love with the Louisville debutante Daisy Fay (Carey Mulligan).  While Gatsby was trying to climb the socio/economic ladder, old money Tom Buchanan (Joel Egerton) swooped in and stole Daisy away.  Gatsby has made his fortune; now that he is worthy of Daisy’s love, he is ready to pick up from where they left off.  Everything Gatsby does including the wild parties at his mansion every weekend are all geared towards getting Daisy’s attention.  What could possibly go wrong?  The story is told through the eyes of Gatsby’s neighbor and Daisy’s cousin Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who becomes Gatsby’s go-between in rekindling the relationship with Daisy.  Through Nick’s eyes we see the whole picture.

If you have seen the previews for the film (and you have) you have undoubtedly seen shots of the outrageous parties that make Gatsby a legend.  While the outstanding dancing and music is amazing, it doesn’t feel like decadence — it feels like hard work and endless practice.  The Broadway-style song & dance aren’t helped by the peripatetic camera-work.  Combined it is all too much, which diminishes the power of what is supposed to be the best part of the movie.

In adapting the novel, director Baz Luhrman has made some controversial choices.  He tries to keep the heavy writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald with copious amounts of narration. With such famous prose at the beginning and end of the film, narration was probably inevitable (and made even more inevitable by casting Mr. wide-eyed moralist himself Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway).  But film is a visual medium, and when you are adapting a book you have to show, not tell.  The narration in the middle of the film is an interruption and Tobey Maguire is a twerp.

Eliz I could live with all of that, but it is Luhrman’s interpretation that really turned me off.  I just reread the Great Gatsby again last week.  Among my many disappointments, the biggest is the diminished importance of the Jordan Baker character.  It is made even more disappointing because the sexy, complicated performance by Elizabeth Debicki that left me wanting more.  Old friends with Daisy back in the Louisville days; Jordan didn’t marry into the elite strata.  In the novel, she cheated and lied her way to the top of professional golf circuit only to get caught and become disgraced.  As the embodiment of the different set of rules that apply to the rich and powerful, she gives a defense of recklessness as chilling and memorable as Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal “Let them eat cake.”  Unforgivably, none of this is included in the film.

The parallels, the links, the way it is woven together are what makes The Great Gatsby, well, great.  It doesn’t just hold up a mirror to us as individuals, it holds up a mirror for an entire era, an entire country.  You don’t have to get into F. Scott Fitzgerald’s impasto symbolism to understand that he is writing about what is all around us — still around us today.

Would I recommend seeing Gatsby?  Yeah, I would recommend it.  It is a big movie with a $127 million budget that people are going to have an opinion about.

In the novel, the Great Gatsby, nothing is what it seems; in the film by Baz Luhrman, everything is exactly what it seems.  The creativity and inventiveness Luhrman displayed in his earlier hits, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, has been drown out in a true stroke of irony, by money and ambition.

party

Broken City: noir-lite

Broken City begins in fast-paced muddle.  It begins at a blurry crime scene, and move quickly to a tense courtroom.  At the same time that New York cop Billy Taggert (Mark Wahlberg) is having the charges for murder dismissed against him in court, Mayor Hoestetler (Russell Crowe) is being made aware of incriminating evidence against Billy that would certainly send him to prison – quite a coincidence in timing wouldn’t you say?  The mayor is willing to face down the police commissioner (Carl Fairbanks) and a race riot to keep the evidence hidden so long has Billy resigns.  Billy is a cop, a good guy; the murder victim is clearly a bad guy.  It seems like a normal, everyday kind of conspiracy for the greater good.  There is something reminiscent of the Godfather when the Mayor assures Billy that their paths will cross again.

Seven years later Billy Taggert is putting his law enforcement background to work as a tough-talking private detective.   But Billy isn’t a businessman.  So the Mayor’s phone call with a $50K job to get proof of his wife’s (Catherine Zeta-Jones) infidelity comes like a financial deus ex machina for Billy.

'Broken City' 2013 Movie High Defination Wallpapers (4)

At the end of Act 1 Billy’s pretty ordinary problems have been solved in the time allotted for a sitcom.  But what appears to have been a simple solution actually puts Billy in the middle of a classic film noir plot.

Probably you’ve heard the term, film noir, those black and white films that exaggerate lighting and are equal parts drama and thriller.   What defines film noir beyond style is the presence of dark forces at work that pull the characters into a fate that they futilely try to resist.

That brings us back to the opening scene that ultimately drives the whipsaw plot twists not to mention the layers of secrets and motives caked on top of each other.  Beyond Billy’s increasingly messy circumstances are the ordinary vices that are staples for police movies: corruption and adultery.  Broken City resists the temptation to get on a soapbox as it exposes the heros as villians and celebrates the antiheros.   And so it goes in Broken City, the Mayor, his wife, his opponent in the election, the police commissioner, powerful campaign donors are all linked together in a web of corruption that turn what is good and bad upsidedown.

Kiss Me Deadly 3

Broken City is a conventionally done movie aimed squarely at a general audience, which is it say that it is meant to be believable.  It is also very fast paced.  It’s portrayal of politics, budget issues, and the juxtaposition of the very wealthy with the poor could only be more current if it all took place on Oprah’s couch.    At the same time, Broken City is a gateway film to noir classics like Kiss Me Deadly and the Maltese Falcon.  True film noir with its femme fatales, it’s sizzlingly over the top dialogue, is an acquired taste – while Broken City is a real crowd pleaser.

Top 5 Films of 2012 (so far) Guest Post: Cineaste77

BULLHEAD-
This film hits the audience like a punch to the head- sudden, horrifying and unpleasant. It’s about lost potential and a destroyed life, and a grown man suspended in adolescence at the moment things changed to render him a wounded animal.
THE AVENGERS-
Fun, thrilling, well-written and well directed, but then there was never a reason to expect any less from wunderkind Joss Whedon. The cast gels together as much as their characters do not, attracting and repelling each other through the film. THE AVENGERS is everything a summer action movie should be and more.  
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL-
A powerhouse of British acting elevates this predictable and cliche story to something pretty good. They play a group of retirees who are trying to find the balance between the luxuries they think they deserve, and the budgets they actually have. Judi Dench and Maggie Smith’s characters in particular have some great things to say about old age, dignity, and not letting oneself be put out to pasture prematurely.
THE GREY-
Liam Neeson doesn’t take crap from any creature, be it human or animal.  Widely criticized for its inaccurate depiction of wolf behavior, this film is about the raw survival of humanity out of its element. The most horrifying and disturbing death here doesn’t involve the wolves at all, and it’s touches like that that make this film great.
PARIAH-
Navigating sex and love in your teen years is hard. Navigating sex and love in your teen years when you are a young lesbian ups the difficulty exponentially. Dee Rees’ debut film adeptly shows that there are experiences that are different for gay teens. It also shows that sometimes, no matter what your sexual orientation, things like first loves and heartbreak are common to the human experience.
About Cineaste77:   You might say that Cineaste77 was born to be a movie maven. Legend has it that her mom went into labor after laughing too hard at the “Make Em Laugh” scene.  Her inherited smart eye  for film is especially fond of classics and kung fu.

Oscar Nominated — Beasts of the Southern Wild, North Texas Kids review

My four year old is the worst storyteller.  He includes details that are superfluous and leaves out details that are necessary to understand the conclusion of his story. At the same time, there is something marvelous about learning the details he notices and those he doesn’t.  I love seeing how his embellishments seamlessly become a part of the story.  It is this flawed but charming way kids tell stories that is at the center of the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild.  It sounds cute doesn’t it?

In fact, it is disturbing.  The camera wanders past squalor that our protagonist, a six-year old, African-American girl called Hush Puppy, takes for granted.  More than just narrating the film, Hush Puppy is the story teller.  Despite the horror with which the audience sees this civilization, we (especially as parents) are reminded by the flawed, patchy way the Hush Puppy tells the story; of the way our own kids would tell it.  Just like when my son tells a story, I started to lose track of what actually happened and what didn’t – what is a shiny detail and what is part of the plot.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is set on an island south of Louisiana known to its inhabitants as “the Bathtub.”  With no stores, no school, and no post office, the residents of the Bathtub are focused on survival.  Their cherished way of life looks primitive, but they are close to nature in a long forgotten mystical way.  Shortly after our introduction to the community, the residents are preparing for an epic storm.  Actually, prepare might not be the right term.  Hush Puppy’s father, Wink, “prepares” by instructing Hush Puppy sit in a flimsy suitcase, while he gets drunk, curses out the storm and then shoot a gun at it.  Despite his efforts, the storm is devastating.  All but a few houses are underwater.  The water doesn’t recede and the salt water starts to kill everything on the island.  There is an ‘us vs. them’ moment where the remaining community has to confront the levee that keeps the Bathtub under water and protects their civilization from interference from the rest of the world.  After they take action, it is impossible for the outside world to ignore them anymore.  It is the turning point of the movie.  As the residents are confronted with modern values that the audience takes for granted, the Bathtub civilization starts to make sense. 

The story is told on two levels; and this is really where the film is brilliant.  There is a tension throughout between the objective circumstances that are a part of the story and scattershot narrative of Hush Puppy.  At the adult level, it is difficult not to judge.  Wink (Hush Puppy’s father) who initially seems like an almost inhumane parent starts to come into focus.  Like all of us, there was a conscious reason behind his disturbing ‘Boy-Named-Sue’ style of parenting

The remoteness, the poverty, the erratic relationships are all made real and terrifying by the outstanding performances of first time actors Quvenzhané Wallis (Hush Puppy) and Dwight Henry (Wink).  Wallis holds the movie together, delivering a visceral performance that makes your hear break for her as if you were her own mother and father.  Wallis is the youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Oscar (see interview here).  Beasts of the Southern Wild has three additional Oscar Nominations including Best Picture and Best Director.  It is also a favorite of First Lady, Michelle Obama as reported by the Washington Post.

Would I recommend Beasts of the Southern Wild?  That’s complicated.  With it showing only at the AngelikaTheaters in Plano and Dallas, it isn’t necessarily an easy movie to get to.  And it isn’t really an easy movie to watch, and it doesn’t get easier towards the end.

As a parent, I found the film to be humbling.  Hush Puppy responds so strongly to her father on his level, embracing values and lessons Wink is trying to teach her.  At the same time, she wears her emotions and her vulnerability on her sleeve as only a child can.  In the end, there is something universally incorruptible and innocent about the way a child perceives the world, even a world that is so much harder than the one any of us knows.

With big wins already in Cannes and at Sundance, you can count on Beasts of the Southern Wild to be a favorite at the Oscars, and maybe even around the water cooler.  If you chose to use one of your all too precious date-nights to see Beasts (I feel your pain), you might pad baby sitting budget a bit so you can go out for a drink afterwards.  This is the kind of film that you are going to want to talk about.  And it is the kind of film that makes you sneak into your son’s room when you get home and give him a little kiss on the forehead.

Top 5 Films of 2012 (so far). Guest Post: Nictate

#1 Thursday Till Sunday

The predawn light, tinted blue. A sensible car, hatchback agape. A sleep-heavy child, lugged from bed. These opening scene details in Chilean writer/director Dominga Sotomayor’s yet-unreleased feature film debut, Thursday Till Sunday, herald the arrival of one to watch. This is a young filmmaker with an uncannily precise sense of observation and an undeniably keen eye for composition.

That sensible car is soon toting a family of four on a long road trip that looks to be their last, as the parents are considering a separation. Somehow turning the claustrophobic setting of a mid-sized vehicle into one beautifully framed shot after another, Sotomayor elegantly delineates the great divide that separates the driver’s seat of adulthood from the dependents who are literally and figuratively taking the back seat in their parents’ personal crisis.

While stops along the road provide some expository elaborations, there is always an intoxicating artlessness afoot in the way the film looks, feels and sounds. In knowing exactly what to leave out, Sotomayor’s evocative minimalism feels like a curative. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

#2 Moonrise Kingdom

I’ve been a Wes Anderson fan from the early days of his career and have consistently found whimsical magic in the intricate worlds he crafts. Exploring broken families, innocent love and true forgiveness,Moonrise Kingdom sustains thematic chords from Anderson’s oeuvre beautifully.

While winsome and witty, the film’s heart is shot through with melancholy, telling the tale of an orphaned boy scout and his star-crossed love—both of whom are only 12 years old.

Shot in 16mm and resembling the faded turquoise, orange and yellow of vintage Polaroid photos, the film perfectly evokes a very particular time and place: 1965 on an island off the coast of New England, to be exact. Unfortunately, but entertainingly, the adults roaming about in this nostalgic tale are stiffly sad, consistently uniformed and stubbornly determined to keep Suzy and Sam, the youthful love birds in question, from pursuing their romance.

In one of a trio of movingly frank scenes in the center of the film, Suzy’s mother and father talk in their darkened bedroom. The conversation is simply stated and quietly performed, but despite its unassuming air, it represents an emotional milestone in Anderson’s work. No punches are pulled. No winking punchlines are detonated. It’s just two seasoned actors (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) speaking on behalf of filmmaking’s eternal boy scout, but this time by way of a newfound, profound maturity. Wonder badge earned, Mr. Anderson.

#3 Damsels in Distress

Much has been made of writer/director Whit Stillman’s long absence from filmmaking. While Damsels in Distress arrived fashionably late, it’s a wry and pretty delight. As a comedy, it may seem prim at first, but it’s no goody-two-shoes. It aims and sinks its arrows neatly, making withering observations about society and human nature as it simultaneously charms.  

Shining through in the majority of scenes, Greta Gerwig hits perfect notes as Violet, a college student who longs to make the world a better place, one person at a time. It’s her character who unexpectedly becomes the beating heart of Damsels in Distress, as she finds herself as lost and lonely as her protégés.

With his signature wit and empathetic warmth, Stillman has polished up a sweet little gem of a film that’s got much wisdom to share. Why, it even has a healthy dose of optimism, plus characters dancing at the drop of a hat and an irresistible soundtrack to match. Whit is it!

#4 Miss Bala

Mexican writer/director Gerardo Naranjo wanted to test that the film he had in his head would work, especially since he was casting an inexperienced actress in the lead. So he test-shot the whole thing on video before he shot the actual film. The whole thing. It seems like an insanely demanding step to add to pre-pro, but Naranjo credits Miss Bala’s seamlessness to it.

Starring the very striking Stephanie Sigman as a poor young woman who dreams of beauty queen status, Miss Bala quickly raises the stakes by becoming enmeshed in the brutally violent world of drug cartels.

The spare sleekness of Miss Bala, and the sense that the filmmaker is observing more than editorializing, makes the indictment of systemic sickness something the audience can process on their own terms. The film itself moves like sliding pressure panels and is jarringly perforated by the pop-pop-pop of gunplay. As humble as it is mighty, Miss Balafeels like an indie movie in the best way possible: created on a shoestring, but as fierce as a locomotive.

 

#5 Haywire

Inspired to build a movie around mixed martial artist Gina Carano, Soderbergh picked up the phone and told collaborator Lem Dobbs to write it. The result is a tidily constructed, tensely coiled, tight little action/thriller flick that tells the story of a black ops super soldier left to fend for herself when she’s betrayed.

Adding to the sparks are entertaining turns by Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas as men who get in our heroine’s way, in one way or another. The jazz-infused soundtrack is as saucy as hell, setting a perfect rhythm for the hold-your-breath action.

While Carano’s acting chops are the only weak thing about her, she turns in a performance that serves its purpose sturdily. And after you’ve seen her mop the floor with an adversary, you won’t really care if a line reading isn’t perfect. She is an undeniable femme fatale and her star vehicle, HAYWIRE, packs a delicious punch. Please don’t retire, Stevie.

Nictate plays a Peggy Olson type by day, working as a copywriter in advertising. Movies have always been a passion of hers, but it’s only been since joining Twitter in 2007 that her cinephile thirst has grown exponentially. Interacting with critics and fellow enthusiasts online has deepened her understanding of and passion for film and the quest to learn more feels (pleasantly) never-ending.  You can follow nictate on twitter at www.twitter.com/nictate

Top 5 Films of 2012 — Guest Post from Cliff Froehlich, Director of Cinema St. Louis

1) The Separation, the deserved winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film and the work I consider the best film of 2011 (though it opened here in 2012, thus qualifying for this list).

2) Beasts of the Southern Wild, a Sundance and Cannes favorite that conflates Terrence Malick and David Lynch but remains utterly sui generis (opens in July).

3) Moonrise Kingdom, an especially winning example of Wes Anderson’s melancholic whimsy.

4) The Deep Blue Sea, the latest masterpiece from Terence Davies, a filmmaker whom I’ve long admired and whose The Long Day Closes ranks among my Top 10 all time.

5) Footnote, an Israeli film that manages to mine surprising comedy and drama from Talmudic scholarship.

Cliff Froehlich is the director of Cinema St. Louis.  Cinema St. Louis organizes film competitions throughout the year and the St. Louis Film Festival.

Oscar Nominated — Moonrise Kingdom: an anthem (as seen in the Blitz Weekly)

The location “Moonrise Kingdom” in Wes Anderson’s new movie by the same name isn’t instantly recognizable.  After the lights have come up, however there is a realization that like Hotel California, it is a destination we all know.

At a younger age, we all had these special, secluded places where we could go to try to make sense of things.  By embracing these isolated places, they became a part of our own worlds, in an actual world that still saw us just kids.  The prepubescent protagonists in Moonrise Kingdom take this place to a completely different level.

The young couple, Sam (Jared Gilman) & Suzy (Kara Hayward), are labeled “emotionally disturbed” and “troubled” respectively.  To be sure these two are quite different, and their environments aren’t helping them.   For Suzy, it is her dysfunctional parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) communicating through a blow horn in their labyrinthine house.  Continue reading

Sarko — The Movie. Bittersweet French election.

A politician’s rise to the highest office coincides with the end of his marriage — it is a story that just begs to be told.  The film, “Conquest” chronicles the machinations that delivered Nicholas Sarkozy juggernaut the French presidency, but the film’s lack of ambition makes it a reenactment.  To my eye, it doesn’t attempt to reinterpret Sarkozy or add much to our understanding of him (or his {now ex} wife, Cecilia, for that matter).  The events grabbing the biggest headlines in French current events pass by almost in the periphery, as Sarko remains singlemindedly focused on maneuvering his way to the Presidency.  The fleeting depiction of French riot crisis (and Sarkozy exacerbating the crisis by calling the rioters “scum”) paints Sarko as being in a bubble that never intersects with the lives of ordinary French citizens.

Five years later, we are in the midst of another French Presidential election.  The two candidates are Sarkozy, whose sobriquet is “President bling-bling”, vs Francois Hollande whose moniker is “Mr. Normal”.  Although I wasn’t a fan of “Conquest”, I think a sequel of the still undecided 2012 campaign might be incredibly interesting.

Since the 2007 election, the French President has become a crucial figure on the world stage along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, (branded together as Merkozy) as they have worked together to stave off disaster during the still unresolved European Financial Crisis.  Now Sarkozy’s best chance of re-election is to contort his substantial International and European accomplishments to win over the Euro-skeptic extreme right-wing Front Nationale voters.

From a human perspective, I think a sequel could also be very rich. Sarkozy has been controversial (as a public figure) is  for his ostentatious ambition and style; not to mention his unabashedly pro-capitalist policies.  Cecila who helped engineer his career has been replaced with Carla Bruni. It is impossible for Bruni, the world famous pop singer and ex-model, to be in the background, but politically speaking she seems that is exactly her place.

Picasso would develop a new style as he would take on a new muse/mistress, a sequel to conquest would flesh out how Bruni’s larger-than-life personality has influenced the President.

Top 5 Films of 2012 (so far): Guest Post from Ricky Miller, Professional Film Critic

1. “Moorise Kingdom”  Wes Andeson has a ceertain spunk and verve when it comes to appreciating his movies.  “Moonrise Kingdom” was no different.  Fun, albiet quirky and very dry and witty, this tale involved an AWOL Khaki Scout and his love for a young redheaded girl.

2. “Marvel’s The Avengers”  Everyting a comic book movie should be and more, writer-director Joss Whedon managed to squeeze a plethora of actors into an enjoyable, fun yarn — especially since the majority of characters were in their own seperate storylines.  He blended the action sequences flawlessly with plenty of time for the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

3. “Thin Ice”  The art of the con was full on in this tale of an everyman, an insurance adjuster  (Greg Kinnear) who stumbles onto an elderly man (Alan Arkin) who also owns a pricless violin.  Enter in Billy Crudup as a jack-of-all trades whose involvment thows a monkey wrench into his plans.

4. “Battleship”  Although this one arrived d.o.a. at the box office, director Peter Berg (“The Rundown,” “The Kingdom”) threw in an  outlandish story that resulted in smiles aplenty by film’s end.  What is cool is that it had a disabled vet  as one of the heroes in the movie.

5. “Safe House”  Ryan Reynolds owed me a good one from last year, considering  his two summer spectacles with the lifeless “Green Lantern” and the mess tht was the buddy-buddy body switching comedy “The Change-Up,”  resulted in just a mish mash of ideas that might have looked great on paper, with a dull thud on delivery.  In this one, Reynolds stars as CIA operative Matt Weston, who has a thankless job working as a peon at that safe house incape Town.   Denzel Washington costars asTobin  Frost, a former villain with a checkered past in the agency.

Also worthy of mentiom are “The Hunger Games,” “Prometheus,” “The Raid:  Redemption” and  “Contraband”

“The movie guru” Ricky Miller is a professional Film Critic in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex.  His website is http://movieguru.bravehost.com

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